The food trends of 2017

Want to know what's hot right now when it comes to diets and ingredients? We explain the pros and cons of the latest food trends.

1. Exotic breakfasts

Shakshouka breakfast

Restaurants and hotels are turning more attention to breakfast, as an opportunity to bring in extra income at a quieter time of day. Meanwhile hearty breakfasts or brunches are becoming increasingly popular, and there’s a trend for breakfast desserts (including pastries, muffins and even chocolate cake).

Both eating out and at home, exotic breakfasts will become more common. Shakshouka or shakshuka – a Northern African and Middle Eastern dish of eggs, tomatoes, peppers and onions – is already cropping up on breakfast and brunch menus in an increasing number of London restaurants. Look out for its South American equivalent, huevos rancheros, as well as Aussie-style and Asian-influenced breakfasts.

BHF verdict:

A proper breakfast is a good way to start the day. Dishes like shakshouka will help towards your 5-a-day and if you make your own, you can control the fat content and avoid adding salt. Breakfast desserts are better as an occasional treat rather than a regular addition to your diet - if you’re craving something sweet at breakfast, try some low-fat yoghurt with berries, or one of our delicious porridge variations.

2. Flexitarianism

Colourful beans and lentils

More of us are cutting back on meat, but without going completely vegetarian. Flexitarianism is a kind of extension of the “Meat-free Monday” concept - it might mean that you avoid meat at certain times of day, or on certain days of the week.

BHF verdict:

Including more fish, pulses and nuts is consistent with a traditional Mediterranean diet. These are good sources of protein too, so including meat free meals in your diet won’t mean you are missing out on this nutrient. Studies have shown that swapping animal protein for plant-based protein like beans and pulses can have health benefits, as well as being better for the environment.

3. New ways with vegetables

Colourful carrots 

Linked to the rise of flexitarianism is a willingness to embrace vegetables. Cauliflower has already found the limelight in 2016 in grilled form, or roasted whole, but look out for cauliflower mash as well as innovative ways with celeriac and aubergines. Heritage and unusual varieties of veg will make a comeback too – look out for purple carrots and purple cauliflower.

BHF verdict:

Any contribution to your 5-a-day will help your intake of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Just watch out for cooking methods that add salt or a lot of fat – deep fried cauliflower is no doubt delicious, as is a cauliflower pizza base which is held together with cheese, but can’t really be considered a healthy food. (The same applies to avocado fries.)

4. Coconut products

Coconut sugar, milk and oil

Coconut oil was everywhere in 2016. In 2017 other coconut products, such as coconut sugar and coconut flour, are set to grow in popularity, especially (in the case of flour) as increasing numbers of people try to avoid wheat or gluten.

BHF verdict:

Coconut sugar has a healthy reputation but don’t be fooled - it’s still sugar, no matter where it comes from.

Coconut flour isn’t really flour at all – it is the ground dried white flesh of the coconut. It is gluten-free and wheat-free, but unless you have an allergy or intolerance, that doesn’t automatically make it a better choice. It’s higher in fat, especially saturated fat, than standard flours. Coconut flour is 15 per cent fat, of which 14 per cent is saturated – anything above 5 per cent saturated fat is classed as “high”.

5. Sardines

Grilled sardines

According to the British Ecological Society, warming seawater means that warm-water fish such as sardines and squid will increase in numbers in UK waters, while cold-water fish such as cod and haddock will be forced to migrate further north. Meanwhile sardines are being marketed in new ways – no longer just a cheap, emergency toast topping, but as a luxury main ingredient, whether it’s spiced Portuguese sardines from a tin or fresh whole sardines from Cornwall.

Like other fish, they’re high in protein, but they also have the benefit of being an oily fish, so they are a source of heart-healthy omega-3s.

The fish also gave its name to a fashionable new London restaurant in 2016.

Get our recipe for wholewheat spaghetti with sardines and cherry tomatoes or our sardine pate recipe

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